Termites and ants and humans

Sometimes when I watch bugs, I’m uncomfortable. Not because I don’t like bugs, but because I look down at them and wonder if we look like bugs when Something looks down at us. The ants trundle about on their little missions, GSDing (getting stuff done) their ant-like way, and they all seem to know where they’re going and what they need to do. Like cars zipping along the highways at 7:00 a.m., carrying people to work.

I was watching a documentary on termites and ants in Africa (yes, I’m a geek, dang it!), and it made me even more uncomfortable. The termites live in these huge mounds above the ground, like cities, and they don’t just protect the termites. Owls and  birds hollow out homes in the mounds, and beetle larvae slumber just below the surface. When fire sweeps through, the mound is so strong, all of the birds and bugs in the mound survive just fine. Once a year, a batch of winged termites are born, and the nighttime air is filled with a mating dance. Which is when the larvae suddenly wake up and begin to fluoresce. The mounds flash and twinkle in the night, and the winged termites go check it out — and get eaten by the larvae.

The ants live below the ground, so they survive the fire fine, but what amazed me is, when you see them carrying pieces of leaves, that’s not for the ants to eat. They feed the leaves to underground mold farms — they feed the mold, the mold feeds them. Yes, they farm. Sometimes seeds in the mold farm germinate and shoot up to the surface, growing into trees that drop fruit that feeds all of the animals.

And then there’s the anteaters, who stick their long tongues into the termite mounds and eat the termites. Believe it or not, they trundle from mound to mound, and they never spend more than three minutes eating from any mound so they don’t “over-fish” any particular mound. 

So animals and insects share space, farm, and protect their resources.

And we think we’re the smart ones.

Some people might feel God-like looking down on these critters. But I just feel ant-like wondering what’s looking down on me.

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About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
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